An innovative idea. I could have predicted the benefits of lower air resistance - but I was surprised to learn that helium is a better heat conductor than air. A nice added benefit. I hope that data recovery will still be possible on damaged disk drives. Will vendors have to supply their own helium atmosphere for data recovery?
Many years ago (almost eons) I worked with helium-charged cryo pumps and found that helium is sneaky stuff. WD would benefit from installing an O2 sensor in the drive so helium leakage out (and air leakage in) could be detected before catastrophic failure. It would still require drive replacement but the user might not experience a head crash. They could also do this with a current monitor and look for increased current on the drive motors.
I guess WD didn't get the memo that the WORLD is out of helium in a couple of decades.
And what a CRAPPY writeup with minimal engineering content or journalism (investigate the facts vs parrot them from the source).
The main benefit of helium, from what I know as an ENGINEER, is that its lower density allows a much lower flying height for the heads, delivering significantly higher bit density (those for you talking about "air resistance" or proposing a vacuum - is someone dumb enough to give you a paycheck these days?)....or is that a secret that WD's PR machine didn't want revealed via EET to the "dummies" at Seagate or Toshiba?
Of course the drive, which is essentially a Tesla turbine, will use much less power if you eliminate one or two of the platters....admittedly, Helium does have lower density, and does produce lower drag, but so does adding a mm or two to the case height, yet you still have the Tesla turbine pumping fluid if you keep the platter count the same.
And, for the record, it's HYDROGEN that cannot be contained for extended periods, not helium. Basic engineering, stuff you guys have forgotten with all your powerpoint.